Hillary Clinton Supporters Have A Foolish And Unworkable Idea To Overturn The Election Result
Some Hillary Clinton supporters have a foolish and unworkable "plan" to steal Trump's victory in the Electoral College. They should abandon it.
In addition to spurring protests, the election of Donald Trump is spurring a proposal to block him from becoming President by utilizing the Electoral College:
After Donald Trump was proclaimed the winner of the 2016 presidential election, there have been protests sprouting up in pockets across the country.
Now, an online petition has been started asking the electoral college to, when they meet on December 19, withhold their support for Trump, something granted to them in the Constitution.
The foundation for the petition is the fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, something that Trump himself has complained about in the past.
Here’s an excerpt from the petition:
“We are calling on the Electors to ignore their states’ votes and cast their ballots for Secretary Clinton. Why?
Mr. Trump is unfit to serve. His scapegoating of so many Americans, and his impulsivity, bullying, lying, admitted history of sexual assault, and utter lack of experience make him a danger to the Republic.
Secretary Clinton WON THE POPULAR VOTE and should be President.”
In 2012 after Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney, Trump tweeted on the matter: ”He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country!” The tweet has since been deleted.
As of the time I’m writing this post, the petition has 2.4 million signatures and the number can no doubt be expected to grow. Regardless of how many people sign it, it is a silly idea that cannot be expected to work and, just as importantly, it’s a plan that shouldn’t be attempted even if there were a chance for it to succeed. It is true that Trump’s victory is not official until the Electors meet in their respective State Capitols and cast their ballot, and that the result of those fifty-one votes is counted by the new Congress in January. It’s also true that there have been examples of so-called ‘faithless electors’ in the past, such as in 1972 when an Elector from Virginia cast their ballot for the Libertarian Party’s nominee rather than Richard Nixon, or in 1988 when an Elector from West Virginia cast her ballot for Lloyd Bentsen for President and Michael Dukakis for Vice-President instead of the other way around. Those have been isolated cases, though, that didn’t have any impact on the outcome of the election and in each case involved only one elector. In order to change the outcome of the election this time, you’d have to have a far more wide-ranging group of people change their mind notwithstanding the fact that they would be defying the law and fundamentally changing the outcome of the election.
Donald Trump won the election with 306 Electoral Votes to 232 for Hillary Clinton. This puts Trump at 36 votes over what he needed to win the election. Thirty-seven electors would also deprive Trump of a majority, but it would also result in a 269-269 tie that would throw the election of the President to the House of Representatives. Given the Republican domination of the House, it’s unlikely that Clinton would be able to garner enough support to win there, especially since it would likely mean finding a way for even more Members of Congress to switch their vote and the fact that, faults notwithstanding, it is highly unlikely that Republicans in the House would switch their vote and back Clinton. Additionally, such a maneuver would likely require Clinton to get support from Congressmen from a large number of states since the vote in the House would be one vote for each state. In the Senate, it’s even less likely that a Senate dominated by Republicans would support Tim Kaine over Mike Pence for Vice-President. For this reason, you’d need 38 faithless electors to vote against Trump. While I suppose that this is possible in theory, in practice it is the kind of possibility that is simply fanciful to believe could happen in the real world for several important reasons. First of all, there are 25 states where delegates are bound by law to vote for the candidate who won the popular vote in their respective states. While it’s true that in most cases the relevant law only provides that the faithless elector would have to pay a nominal fine for defying the outcome of the election in their state, the fact that faithless electors have been so rare suggests that most electors would be unwilling to do so. Second, in all cases the electors that will meet in December are largely made up of people who have been long-time stalwarts in their respective parties who have been chosen by their party to take on this role. When they are selected the state party has vetted them to make sure that they would vote for the party nominee when the time came. Third, even if the plan somehow succeeded in ‘flipping’ 38 electors, it’s likely that the states where Trump won would dispute the changed result. Under a law passed in by Congress in 1887, a state can send in a new list of electors to counterbalance the disputed vote, leaving it to Congress to decide which list to accept. Again, since the House is dominated by Republicans the anti-Trump lists would be rejected unless Hillary Clinton can somehow convince Republican Congressmen to support her over the Trump. Finally, there’s the fact that Hillary Clinton has conceded the election and accepted the result of the election, as has the sitting Democratic President, the odds that either one of them would go along with a scheme like this are somewhere below zero.
To a large degree, of course, proposals like this, and the protests that I wrote about yesterday are a reflection of the frustration that people who supported Hillary Clinton feel over the fact that their preferred candidate lost the election and the fear their feel for the future at the possibility of what kind of President Donald Trump will be. It’s not dissimilar from the feeling that voters on the opposing side of any election result feel when the election doesn’t turn out the way they hoped and believed that it would. It’s also what’s behind the protests that wrote about yesterday. The reaction is understandable, but the fact of the matter is that Donald Trump won this election fair and square and trying to change the election result via methods that, while legal clearly undermining the rules we’ve established for elections, rules which both campaigns agreed to accept at the start of the race and on which they each based their respective campaigns. It is an effort to undermine the results of a democratic election and as unwise and foolish as the calls of supporters of Donald Trump supporters to take up arms if their candidate had lost the election. For that reason alone, it ought to be rejected out of hand.